I Don't Deserve to Be a Doctor
“Kristi, how does it feel to be a 4th year student but also a doctor at the same time?”
This was a comment asked to me in the middle of a fully staffed OR while I was monitoring a patient under anesthesia. I was embarrassed and ultimately felt the wave of shame pass over me once again. Although I know this comment wasn’t intended to come from a place of malintent, it still stung.
Clinical year is hard enough as it is. Harder if you have to continue on after your class graduates and even harder in the middle of a pandemic. If you’re wondering why I still had 2 rotations to finish after graduating, please read my old blog post here.
I had been dreading these last 2 rotations since the moment I knew I’d have to stay longer than originally planned but I told myself the silver lining would be that I could help the new 4th year students and even have some rotations with friends in the class below me. But nope, that didn’t happen either. The new 4th year class started online so that meant I’d not only be back in the clinics, but I’d be one of the only students (if not the only student) on my last 2 rotations.
To be honest, I really didn’t enjoy my first rotation back in the hospital. I felt lost, confused, embarrassed and lonely. Having to worry about my health and the unknowns of COVID was overwhelming after being quarantined for months. I hated having to roam the hallways of the clinics every day and answer the question “why are you still here?” to every clinician, tech, and worker that passed by. I was never upset for anyone asking me because it seemed as if they were genuinely shocked I was still there, which to me meant they probably didn’t expect me to be someone that failed anything that would have caused me to stay longer (so honestly took it as a compliment to make myself feel better lol). But I know that's the price I had to pay for falling short in one of my courses during third year & no one could have predicted that I’d finish my clinical year in the middle of a pandemic. So it was really just a double whammy. I had come to terms with the fact that I'd still be in the clinics after graduating and had originally planned to just blend in with the new 4th year students. Then COVID came busting in and that was no longer an option because the new 4th years would remain online until the end of the summer.
I cried a lot on that first rotation back. I left everyday feeling so ashamed of myself for still having to be there. I didn’t feel excited about my career anymore because honestly, I didn’t feel like I deserved my DVM. I felt like a fraud that had slipped through the cracks. It just wasn’t my favorite rotation because of these odd circumstances & my own imposter syndrome creeping in. I knew this time would have to come but I never knew it’d look like this (but no one did).
On top of my internal dialogue telling me I don’t deserve to be a doctor, I also hated not having student support around. I’ve always valued the importance of having block mates but man, this really solidified that experience in clinics IS largely influenced by your block mates (both positively and negatively). My first rotation back was the one where I was the only student but my last rotation did have another student and it really made a world of difference.
My last rotation was the one that turned my thinking and mindset around. Not only did I have another student to work with who was incredible (shoutout to Shaila!) but the rotation was one I had been DYING to take and the team was incredible. Everyday I came into the hospital and was addressed as Dr. Kristi and was taken seriously as a doctor (even tho I was also technically a 4th year). It reminded me that our hardest critics are usually ourselves and not everyone around us is automatically thinking negative and demeaning thoughts towards us. I let my imposter syndrome and shame get the best of me & I really had to tell myself every single day that I deserved those letters behind my name and if anyone else actually had thoughts about MY personal experience than it’s none of my business.
My point of writing this post is to let others know that their never alone in this journey (& to also inform those of you wondering why I am still in the clinics after graduating LOL). The pathway to DVM is not linear for everyone. Sometimes you can’t control what’s happening around you (like clinics in a pandemic) so you just have to do the best you can. Success isn’t determined by all the “failures” or “set backs” you avoided. To me, it’s all about how hard you fought with all those obstacles in the way.
Hang in there. & if you need to talk/vent, I’m only a email away! You got this.